After getting rid of my old desktop computer, my desk started to feel a little less useful and a little more sad. The drawers and shelves were still super useful, but as far as a usable desk-space, not so much. The desk top is too high for me to comfortably use my laptop there, and while I could set my laptop on the keyboard tray, that felt sort of awkward too. Most of the time, I use my laptop while lounging on the couch, but for extended use, I'm trying to get out of that habit, as I figure my sitting posture there is so bad. There are rare occasions when I work from home, primarily in the winter when our road doesn't get plowed, so I wanted a desk that felt more usable for working on either my home or work laptop. A number of people at my office have been getting standing desks. I haven't jumped on that bandwagon yet at work, but I thought maybe I'd give it a try at home. When thinking about what I wanted in a new home desk, that just felt right.
The problem with this idea, is that standing desks are generally super expensive and don't have any shelves or drawers. My current desk, as you can see from the picture below, has a good amount of storage, which I need because I have too much stuff. I wanted a desk that would still have plenty of storage and wouldn't break the bank. Now, one of the reasons that most standing desks are really expensive is because they're adjustable; they go up and down so you can get it to the correct height or even sit when you want to. I figured for a home workspace that I probably wouldn't use a ton, I didn't need to be able to put it down for sitting; if I get tired of standing, there are plenty of other places in the house I can sit for a bit. So as long as I had a desk that was the appropriate height for me to use a laptop while standing, I didn't need an adjustable desk.
I thought about building my own desk from scratch and started scouring the Internet for plans and ideas. That's when I started finding DIY not-from-scratch standing desks that use various bought pieces to create a desk. Many of the desks I found are made from Ikea shelves. Using shelves to build a desk also solves the storage problem! I found one Ikea hack standing desk that I really liked. Unfortunately, when I went on Ikea's website, they no longer make those exact pieces. Now, to be fair, the page where I found the hack didn't list desk dimensions. In any case, putting together the new, replacement Ikea pieces would have resulted in a desk about 2-3 inches too tall for me. I searched their whole site of shelves to see if I could come up with a different combination that would work. I got close, but the top pieces would have hung over the front and back of the bottom pieces, and I didn't think that would look that great.
Then I remembered a DIY table that I had just seen recently on one of the blogs I read regularly, Thrifty Decor Chick. Her table was shorter, but the idea was just two cube shelves with a tabletop across them. If I could find cube shelves that were the right height, that would work just fine. And I did find them! And also a tabletop that didn't add too much more height, so the final result would still be in the acceptable range!
The cube shelves are by Closetmaid and are 44" tall by 30" wide. I found them in a few places, but ended up buying them on Amazon to get free shipping for some other things I was getting there. Plus I have a credit card with them that gives me points for things I buy on Amazon. The tabletop is from the Container Store. Shipping would have added $20, so we drove to the nearest store about 30 minutes away.
When the cube shelves arrived, I had to assemble them, which went a lot more quickly than I had anticipated. Then Zach helped me set the desktop on top of them and get everything lined up. It turned out that I didn't have wood screws of the right length (some were too short, some were too long), so I had to wait a few days until I had time to get over to Home Depot.
In that time, I had the opportunity to think about things some more, and I decided that the shelf backs were more visible than I had expected, and they didn't look good. You know what self-assemble shelf backs look like - unfinished cardboard. So I decided to paint them. At first I thought I would paint them white, since I have a bunch of white paint sitting around. But then I thought that would look weird. Then I thought of black, as I already have that too, but I decided it would be close enough but not quite a match to the shelf color that it wouldn't look very good either. So then I dug up my old Sherwin Williams color fan deck that I've had forever since my sister worked there in college. Zach and I went through it and found a color, Domino, that looked like it would be a really close match to the shelf color. I went over to our local store the next day and got a quart mixed up.
I decided not to do any primer since that would actually lighten the color I'd be painting onto, which I didn't want to do for such a dark color. I thought I would need two coats, but after the first, I decided that was good enough. Plus, I started getting worried about bubbling and warping the cardboard with too much moisture.
After the shelf backs were painted, we put the desktop back on. I clamped the top to the shelves, pre-drilled holes, and used 1.5" #8 wood screws to attach the desktop to the cube shelves. That was it! Super simple. Now it's just a matter of getting all my stuff put back on the shelves and getting re-organized, which I'm still working on weeks later :-p I haven't used it a lot, as expected, but I have used it some, and so far, I like having a standing-height desk :-)